Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Home schooling in the U.K.

  Due to unseen circumstances (a relocation, a house selling/buying delay and a buyer who's solicitor is not in my good books - more about that later!) I am home schooling Master Chief.  He's just started Year One technically, but as we're moving imminently I have decided that it would be detrimental to his mental health to start him in a new year at school - new class, new friends as they're all split up this year, new teacher and new building - and then tear him away after a couple of weeks to do it all again in a completely alien environment.  So, home schooling.
  The first week was not really a school week, we had to visit our new town for a couple of days (so Geography, right?) but this week we have had some more structure to the day.  Miss Chief has gone back to nursery in the afternoons so the morning is a lot less structured (making, art, playing games, etc.) and then the afternoon is our time.  So far we have done some science experiments, some maths, some reading & spelling and some other bits and pieces and I'm trying to make it all "real", for example the maths can be used in cooking or a game of chess.
  I'm by no means an expert but I hope I'll keep him engaged until such time as we move and he gets to go to school, I'm sure he's missing the social interaction.
  I'll try to keep this blog updated with our home schooling journey, it'll be a great record for us if nothing else.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Homemade burgers

Master Chief has decided he wants to cook again - hurrah!

We decided to make some burgers.  We've done this before but I put so much chopped up veg in them that they just fell apart, oops.

500g mince (I used a fairly lean mince)
1 small onion, diced
1 egg
Oil (I used olive oil)

What to do
Dice the onions, you can cut them as small as you like or leave them chunky if you want a good bite of onion in your burger.
Mix the egg and onion together in a bowl and then add the mince and mix it all up.
Wet your hands slightly and grab a handful of the mince mix.  Roll it into a ball and then flatten it a bit to make it look more burger shaped.  When I had squashed it, my burger was about the size of my palm but you can make them any size you like, obviously the bigger they are the more likely they are to fall apart.
Put the shaped burgers on a plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour to chill and firm up.

The recipe I looked at said to cook them on a barbeque - I obviously ignored this and fried them but I guess that means you could cook them any way you like.
I sprayed the burger itself with oil - mostly because I bought an oil sprayer when I was on holiday and now use it for everything.  Seriously, don't come round to the Chief house and stand still for too long!
I then cooked the burger in a frying pan on a fairly gentle heat.  I cooked it until I couldn't see any pink left, turning it occasionally.

Not brilliant pictures, sorry, but hopefully you get the gist.

You could go sophisticated and serve them with some creamed horseradish in a toasted brioche bun, however, I served these to two small children so obviously they were smothered in tomato ketchup.  

Homemade food - check.  Sophistication - ummm, yeah, I'll get back to you on that one!

You could also chuck some other veg in - I've done red pepper, mushroom, spring onion.  Just don't put too much in or you'll be serving up crumbled mince veg mix.  The veg obviously adds water so if you feel the mix is too wet then you could always add some flour to unmoisten (is that a word?!?) the whole thing up.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Baked spaghetti

Master Chief was inspired by a recipe he saw on television and wanted to make it for dinner.

I obviously cheered him on and fully encouraged this interest, and was happy to find out that we had most of the ingredients - sort of.  In true Chief style I made do with what I did have and he was happy after I explained that this meant that he could make it right now.  There was a little bit of "But Mummy, we need sun-dried tomatoes" but we overcame that.

The recipe was basically for a pasta bake but it used spaghetti which he and Miss Chief had huge fun breaking in pieces (some of which are probably still behind my cooker!) instead of the usual twists. 

Spaghetti, snapped into small pieces (we made them a couple of inches or so)
Ham, cut into small pieces
Tomato puree (this is what I used instead of the sundried tomatoes)
6 olives, cut into small pieces
1 tin of tomatoes (I used chopped toms)
Stock cube
Paprika (just a sprinkle)

What to do
Turn on the oven and set it at about gas mark 6 (around 200 for electric).
Put the ham and olives into an ovenproof dish (or small dishes if you want to do individual ones) and add a generous squeeze of tomato puree.
Snap the spaghetti into small pieces.  This isn't entirely necessary but it makes it a lot easier if it's small mouths eating.  Put the pieces in with the ham and tip the tin of tomatoes on top.
Add some water.  This is very vague but I added about half a tin and it turned out saucy but not too wet.
Crumble on the stock cube and give it all a good mix.
Sprinkle a little paprika on top and then cover with tin foil and put it in the oven.
I checked it after about 20 minutes but it needed a bit longer so I gave it a stir and then put it back in for another 10 minutes or so.  If you're using individual dishes then it'll cook quicker so my advice is to just check it regularly.

I sprinkled a bit of grated cheese on top before I served it.  I also served it in these glass dishes and it was gobbled up.
There were no "Dinner or bed" fights that night - bliss!

I'll try to keep Master Chief's interest going though, I think it's a great idea to learn to cook at a young age and hopefully he'll get experimental in the kitchen again soon!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A is for apple

A memory from when Master Chief was much smaller...

Master Chief was playing with his alphabet twisty toy.

Grandma Chief said "A is for....?" and my boy said "Apple".

Brilliant. The child is obviously a genius.  At only a year and a half he knows the entire alphabet (ahem - sorry, totally OTT proud parent exaggeration!).

Then Grandma Chief said "B is for....?"

Master Chief paused, and looked at her and then he said "Bapple"

Cue hysteria. 

I correct myself, the child is obviously a comedy genius.

Thursday, 3 September 2015


A serious post.

Regarding the refugees - please give whatever you can.  Money, clothes, books, toiletries, bedding.

These people REALLY need our help.  We are the ones who can make a difference.  Today.

And imagine the horror if that was someone you love.

Please, just do it.  Make sure you are not the one who turns away.

Social media photo bashing

My eldest is about to start school.  Big moment.  Scary stuff (for me, not him - Master Chief is ITCHING to go to school!)

There are also a lot of my friends in the same position, about to send their child off to school and understandably both proud and a little nervous.
There are a lot of posts on facebook regarding this at the moment.  Half of them are photos of children in their new school uniform.  The other half are slating the parents who post these photos.

Leave. Them. Alone.

If a parent wants to post a photo of their child at this momentous time then let them be.  They may be posting it for far away friends or relatives, they may want to mark the occasion, or they may just be posting it because they love their child.  Any problem with that?

You don't have to poke fun at them, mock them or downright be an arse about it - just keep scrolling through your newsfeed until you get to something you do want to see.

And, while we're on the subject, anyone who posts photos of their new baby is also fine - leave them be too.  They are proud parents who love their child and don't give a toss who knows.  Would it be better if the parents didn't give a shit about their child and ignored milestones?  And it's not up to you to decide what is a milestone in a babies life, that's up to the parents.  So what if you've seen seventeen photos of a baby grinning?  The most important thing is that this is THEIR baby grinning and it's the most beautiful thing in the world.

Find some love in the world - and if you can't do that then find some tolerance.  And if you can't do that then just keep your opinions to yourself.

No recipe this time, just the rant.  Sorry about that, I'll cook something soon!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Frozen yoghurt drops (or pieces)

A big fave in our family are frozen yoghurt drops (or pieces).
Master & Miss Chief think they're getting frozen sweets and I'm happy they're not being filled with sugar.

So very easy, all you need is some yoghurt or fromage frais, a freezer, and a tray or plate that can be frozen.

   The first time I did this I used a plastic plate and dolloped bits of yoghurt onto it so they were more like drops, this time I used a plastic tray and poured the yoghurt in.

Then I spread it out a bit so it was fairly flat and put it in the freezer.

Voila! Frozen yoghurt.  I broke it up into pieces and put it in a lidded tub in the freezer.  I'd like to tell you how long it would last for but in this house that equals 10 minutes after I open the tub!

Things like this that make the children happy and make me feel like I'm doing a good job are important, sometimes you need the boost.